Coffee, thanks to its caffeine jolt and hot health benefits, remains the beverage of choice for millions of Americans every morning. And the energizer isn’t losing its steam anytime soon. In fact, the number of coffee consumers continues to rise, according to a survey conducted by the National Coffee Association USA.
Evidence shows that java improves alertness and contains a high amount of antioxidants that may help reduce your risk of conditions like diabetes and heart disease. And because it’s readily available and inexpensive, it’s no wonder people turn to it for their 9 a.m….and 3 p.m. pick-me-up.
So if you’re one of many drinking a cup of joe (or five) on the daily, test out these five coffee hacks that’ll boost your morning fuel in new ways. Heck, you might even find that your first cup is so satisfying, you can pass up on a second.
5 Ways to Boost Your Coffee Pick-Me-Up
1. Add Protein Powder
Unless you add milk to your coffee, you aren’t getting any protein from a typical cup of joe. But having the macronutrient — essential for muscle growth — at breakfast can up your fullness levels and keep you from snacking later in the day, according to research. (Keep in mind, the study involved an egg-filled breakfast, rather than straight protein powder.)
Sports nutrition counselor Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, recommends adding enough protein powder to reach the target of 15 to 20 grams of protein per meal. (Just mix powder with cold water first for a smoother, more effective sip.) “The amount you add depends on your taste buds and the rest of the menu. If you are having just oatmeal or toast, you likely want more protein powder than if you’re having three eggs, in which case you have reached the protein goal for the meal,” says Clark.
2. Take a Coffee Nap
If you really want to take your energy boost to the next level, try snoozing right after you sip. A slew of evidence supports the idea that coffee combined with a nap can lead to optimal performance. One study found, for example, that subjects who followed up their caffeine intake with 20 minutes of shut-eye experienced less sleepiness later in the day. To time it right, science shows that you should drink a beverage with 200mg to 250mg of caffeine and then settle in for a 15- or 20-minute nap. It’s the ideal recipe for wakefulness.
3. Energize Your Workout
Prefer to use your brew to maximize gym time? Instead of splurging on pre-workout supplements, try drinking your morning joe an hour before a workout. Just like java perks you up at your desk, it’ll also give you an energy boost to push through a tough sweat. “The caffeine makes the effort seem easier, so the person can exercise harder, without actually feeling as though he or she is working harder,” says Clark.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology also suggests that sipping coffee before your workout could make the session more enjoyable — a good thing to consider when you just don’t feel like hitting the gym. To top it off, research shows that having caffeine pre-exercise can help you eat fewer calories afterward. Three health benefits in one cup of joe.
4. Time Your P.M. Cup Correctly
OK, sometimes you just need that extra pick-me-up post-lunch. But what’s the cut-off to avoid a sleepless night? According to Dr. Sujay Kansagra, MD, Mattress Firm sleep health consultant and author of My Child Won’t Sleep, your body “clears about half of the caffeine in your system every four to seven hours,” he says. “As such, ensure that your last cup of coffee, or other caffeinated beverage, for the day is at least six hours before you go to bed.” That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some joe in the afternoon, though. Cortisol levels start to decrease after 1 p.m., so consider grabbing a mug around that time to combat deskside drowsiness.
5. Lighten Your Tired Look
In addition to drinking coffee, you can also use it to reduce the look of tired eyes. According to Dr. Lily Talakoub, dermatologist at McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center, “caffeine helps to de-puff the under-eye area and it helps tighten the skin.”
When you brew your cup of joe at home, set aside the coffee grounds, let them cool, and then apply them under your eyes. Dr. Talakoub recommends washing your face first, and then letting the coffee grounds sit on your under-eyes for about five minutes before wiping them off. Voilá — coffee to both feel and look better.